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Talking won’t always help: The idea that most conflicts arise from misunderstanding is an illusion

The first US ambassador to the United Nations was a crusty old former senator from Vermont who had never been outside the United States and not much of anywhere inside the US except back and forth to Washington. When Israel declared independence in 1948 and was invaded by its Arab neighbors, Ambassador Austin looked out over the podium of the General Assembly and said: “What I don’t understand is why the Jews and the Arabs can’t get together around a table and resolve their differences like good Christian gentlemen.”
This was an extreme example of an all-too-common misconception in The West, that assumes that differences are due to misunderstandings, and misunderstandings can be resolved through negotiations; that is, talk.

In the last few days, the following non-events have taken place:

Yet another round of talks between Hamas and Fatah, supposed to lead to a reconciliation and a unity government covering the West Bank and Gaza, broke up after agreeing on nothing.

The so-called G-7 and G-20 countries held meetings and decided on absolutely nothing with reference to monetary policies of various members that are adopted to increase competitiveness through currency depreciation at the expense of other countries, rather than by increasing their own productivity.

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